Basketball

Kentucky’s most recent Mr. and Miss Basketball breaking through as college freshmen

Northern Kentucky’s forward Carson Williams (23) is averaging 10.8 points and 6.1 rebounds in more than 24 minutes per game this season. Here he makes a pass while being challenged by Illinois center Maverick Morgan (22) in a November game in Champaign, Ill.
Northern Kentucky’s forward Carson Williams (23) is averaging 10.8 points and 6.1 rebounds in more than 24 minutes per game this season. Here he makes a pass while being challenged by Illinois center Maverick Morgan (22) in a November game in Champaign, Ill. AP

Kentucky’s latest Mr. and Miss Basketball honorees have settled into college life and into key roles on their teams this season.

Mr. Basketball Carson Williams, a 6-foot-5 forward out of Owen County, has started every game for Northern Kentucky, while Miss Basketball Erin Boley, a 6-2 forward out of Elizabethtown, has contributed in many games off the bench for No. 6 Notre Dame.

“It’s all going well, so far,” Williams said last week. “I had a good first semester academically. The season’s going well at this point. … So, I got no complaints there.”

The Norse sit fifth in the Horizon League with a 12-7 record overall. NKU hit a two-game skid on the road last week with losses to Green Bay and a head-scratcher to 5-12 Milwaukee.

Still, Williams is averaging 10.8 points and 6.1 rebounds in more than 24 minutes per game this season. And he’s shooting better than 59 percent from the field.

He knew playing Division I basketball would be a challenge, and he says he’s learned a lot about how to manage his time with weight training, practice, classes and studying.

But, the “biggest shock has been how much mental preparation goes into playing at the Division I level,” Williams said. “Playing at this level will really expose you. You learn your strengths, and your weaknesses are exposed.”

Williams loves the Norse’s fast-paced style of play under second-year head coach John Brannen, and said he’s constantly working on adding a three-point shot to his game, but he’s only taken one attempt this season. He scored a season-high 21 points against Brescia.

The biggest shock has been how much mental preparation goes into playing at the Division I level. Playing at this level will really expose you. You learn your strengths, and your weaknesses are exposed.

Carson Williams

For Miss Basketball Erin Boley, it’s been a bit of a different challenge stepping into one of the top women’s programs in the country. The Irish sit second behind No. 7 Florida State in the ACC standings. Notre Dame visited Tennessee on Monday night.

Boley, who was also a McDonald’s All-American and the national Gatorade player of the year, averages 6.3 points and 2.4 rebounds in just over 12 minutes per the game coming off the bench.

The adjustment to playing big-time women’s basketball has been huge.

“Physically, I feel I am holding up pretty well,” Boley told NDinsider.com this month. “They do a good job of taking care of us. I feel I was prepared for it to be a lengthy season. As a freshman, you want to adjust any way you can. I don’t mind the road trips, don’t mind the travel. It’s different from high school. You just have to adjust and get used to it.”

But Boley has been able to make her mark from behind the three-point arc, shooting better than 38 percent from three and launching the third most attempts on the team. She had a season-high 15 points in a blowout win over Valparaiso on Dec. 4.

Boley acknowledged her coach wants her to focus more on rebounding, and she also told NDinsider.com she aims to get better defensively, as well.

I wish I had focused more on defense in high school than I did. The physical part is there. I just have to figure out how to use what I’ve got.

Erin Boley

“I wish I had focused more on defense in high school than I did,” she told the fan site. “The physical part is there. I just have to figure out how to use what I’ve got.”

If Williams could go back in time and give his younger self some pointers, he has a few.

“I would just tell myself the time goes quick,” he said. “Don’t put anything off. Don’t take the time for granted. And work hard on my game every day because the work I do then is going to show up down the line even if I didn’t think that it would.”

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